From science to technology adoption: the role of policy research in improving natural resource management uri icon


  • GCTE3 science seeks to predict the effects of global change on agriculture, forestry and soils. Better understanding the response of these ecological systems, it is argued, will enable society to better ameliorate, adapt to, and even benefit from, the forces of global change. The argument presented in this paper, however, is that the response of managed ecosystems can only be understood by treating likely human response to global change as an integral part of the research agenda. Linking science and policy research matters because the adoption of technologies for improved natural resource management, or of other interventions that scientific research may help design, is conditioned by socio-economic factors that policy research is better equipped to articulate.
  • The paper also assesses how best to link GCTE science research and policy research. Researchers need to be: (a) concerned at many scales, from local to global; (b) able to predict and allow for the influences of technical change; (c) able to model biophysical processes and behavioral norms and responses in an integrated way. Interactive models in which biophysical processes impact on human behavioral response and vice versa are increasingly required. Even where land use and socio-economic models are not formally linked, significant gains may be made from multidisciplinary approaches and information exchange that develop common scenarios under which biophysical and economic analyses are made separately, but at least in complementary ways. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
  • The paper first discusses how natural resource management and technology adoption are influenced by policy factors. It then explores why science - including GCTE - research needs to be linked to policy research. The reasons include: (a) that understanding biophysical processes is necessary but insufficient to understanding the socio-economic consequences of global change; (b) that the design of interventions to ameliorate negative and foster positive change at a global scale depends on gauging the likely human behavioral responses to change; (c) that although global impacts arise from an accumulation of local changes, interventions are often best coordinated in an international forum where the interests of potential "winners" and "losers" can best be matched. Different (winner and loser) nations have different policy stances on the underlying promoters of change. e.g., population growth, carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, etc. Failure to understand the (often economic) incentives underlying the "business-as-usual" position of many countries can hamper progress, even if the scientific arguments are compelling

publication date

  • 2000
  • 2000